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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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OF
of forming an extended expedition in the Eussian
dominions at his sole cost, with the express injunction
to consider the advantages which the Russian govern-
ment might draw from his researches in the mining
capabilities of the country merely as of secondary
importance, and to devote himself solely and entirely
to the advancement of science.
Humboldt could not refuse such a proposal; but
that he did not at once, in the spring of 1828, make
use of it, shows the highmindedness of the man, for
he held it to be his duty first to complete his public
lectures, and to sacrifice his personal desires to the
promise he had given to the pxiblia But he deferred
his publication of the lectures to prepare for the
great journey to be commenced in the spring of
1829, and to arrange his plans with the other na-
turalists whom he was to choose to accompany him.
Humboldt/s devotion to natural science made the
year 1828 important far more than the preparations
for the Asiatic journey. For the purposes of com-
parative researches, he caused the temperature to
be measured in all the Prussian mines, and this
led HumboldtJs reflective and comparative mind to
new results; and besides this, he was occupied in the
autumn of this year by the seventh annual meeting
of the German naturalists and physicians (an institu-
tion originated in Oken), which held its sittings in
Berlin this time, and elected Humboldt, and Lichten-
stein, as presidents for the year*
Here Hximboldt's penetrating mind was again
revealed in his just conception and comprehension of
science and its diities, which consist partly in extend-
ing and popularizing knowledge, partly in exciting to
further inquiries, in gaining new disciples, and in
making itself of practical utility in life, and of
educational service for the people.
These annual assemblies failed to fulfil their pur-
pose, partly because the different branches of natural
science were not properly separated from each other,
and the constantly-increasing material could not be